Like most of you, I've also been stuck inside, not only trying to keep busy, but also trying to keep up with (some) of my health and wellness habits... I figured I'd make a list of some products that have been helping me!
This simple device adds extra benefit to any workout. Performing exercises on a vibrating place like the one above helps fire both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers simultaneously, which makes your body take more advantage of the workout you're doing in the same amount of time! It also has had a proven benefit on your hormonal, cardiovascular, lymphatic, and nervous systems simultaneously. I've been doing my squats, lunges, planks, calf raises and posture exercises on mine daily since I've been home. The BioQuake I got on Amazon (check it out here) is relatively cheap compared to some other models out there, and has a dual motor, which enables me to set it to vibration only, vs. a jarring back and forth motion, which can be harmful to the joints. I set mine at 30 Hz for all of my workouts, because that's what was proven by researchers as the frequency that was the most effective.
My FAVORITE supplement company has now pushed most of their manufacturing towards production of their immune-focused products. Their Ultra-Potent Vitamin C is my GO-TO for extra immune health. Because this type of vitamin c is buffered, it's easier on your GI system, which means you have have a higher dose without getting the GI upset you'd get with non-buffered Vitamin C. I like the chewables (1 tablet = 4 oranges!) or the powder (it doesn't taste great, but you get a high-dose of vitamin C in 1/4 teaspoon)! Metagenics is a brand that only offered through providers, and you can order directly through our website on our ONLINE SUPPLEMENT STORE. You can also access our supplement portal through the CURRENT PATIENTS tab at the top toolbar of our website. Even if they're back-ordered, you may receive them sooner than you think!
Magnesium Glycinate is one of my favorite supplements that can help calm the nervous system, and also help relax tight and stiff muscles. Magnesium Glycinate is a form of Magnesium that is better utilized by our body, and targets the nerves an muscles. You can order this through our ONLINE SUPPLEMENT STORE as well!
I'm lucky to have a job where I'm (luckily) not on the computer for the majority of the day. Now that I've been home, I've increased my computer time what feels like tenfold and my eyes were literally BURNING! (I don't know how all of you corporate-worlders do this everyday!) I got a pair of these blue light blocking glasses from Amazon, and I'm feeling much better. They block a lot of the blue light that gets emitted from our screens that can interfere with melatonin production and affect your sleep cycle.
We've discussed how being grateful can help stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. This journal gives me guidance for acknowledging what I'm grateful for every morning and evening, along with setting intentions for the day. I love this book because it has specific prompts to fill in, and (literally) takes at the most 5 minutes out of my day!
I have a couple of these things plugged in around my apartment. They're easy and require practically NO maintenance. It helps to keep the air in here a bit fresher and cleaner while I'm stuck inside (and also cooking for what feels like ALL DAY, EVERY DAY)!
Stress WILL make you sick!
As a chiropractic patient at our office, you already know the detrimental effect stress can have on your nervous system (and therefore your entire body, INCLUDING your immune system)! Now more than ever is an important time to do what you can to help counteract the negative effects of stress on your BRAIN! When we get into a “fear-mindset,” our body goes into fight or flight mode (our sympathetics kick into high gear), and our body releases a hormone called cortisol. Guess what cortisol does to your immune system? It WEAKENS it! This fear response can actually make us sick in a host of different ways!
We still of course want to take proper precautions - wash your hands, practice social distancing, avoid large groups, etc… but instead of practicing this out of fear, do it out of respect for other people’s health and well-being, and as an act of service to the people working to keep everyone safe and healthy.
As our patients know, one of the easiest things to help decrease the stress response in the body is chiropractic care (!), but while our office is closed, we're encouraging our patients, family and friends to do whatever they can at home to try to decrease this stress (sympathetic) response and increase the body's relaxation (parasympathetic) response.
At home techniques to increase parasympathetic activation
1. Practice Gratitude
One of the easiest at-home ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system is to practice gratitude. The more we can take a step back to appreciate show gratitude, the more we can “calm-down” and dampen this fight/flight response in our nervous system. Researchers at UC Davis have studied the positive effects that a practice of gratitude can have on your body. How do you start? Maybe start a gratitude journal - one of my favorites is the five-minute journal or you can download a template here.
Slow, deep breaths help to activate your Vagus Nerve - basically the “big mama” for our parasympathetic nervous system. Some reminders for conscious breath? Take a deep breath in through your nose, into your abdomen first. As you breathe in, your breath will move upward towards your diaphragm and lungs. When you have a full breath, hold for a second or 2, then allow the breath to release slowly through your mouth. Bonus biohack - match the timing of your exhale count to your inhale count. Ex - inhale for 6 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds.
3. Get out for a walk or some fresh air!
Walking (or even just spending time in nature!) for at least 20 minutes each day has been shown to reduce cortisol levels.
4. Activate your oculocardiac reflex
When our body elicits a response to an outside stimulus without us thinking about it, it’s called a reflex. There is a cool reflex associated with the parasympathetic nervous system. With slight pressure on the outside of your closed eye, your heart rate decreases. How can you take advantage of this reflex to help you relax? You can close one eye and apply light pressure to the outside of your eyelid for a few seconds. OR, you can relax with an eye pillow resting over your closed eyes - this will apply a very light pressure to both eyelids.
5. Straighten Up!
When we are in fight/flight stress mode, our body neurologically goes into a flexed position. Our hip flexors will tighten, and we will assume a slightly hunched posture because our body thinks it needs to go into “protective mode.” When we’re sitting at our work from home office stations all day, this continues to neurologically integrate this bad, stressed out/hunched position. If you’re working from home, make sure you’re getting up for at least 10 minutes every hour - do some overhead reach stretches and/or some gentle lunge stretches to stretch those hip flexors! Check out this article on 8 poses for iliopsoas release.
6. Try some gentle yoga
One of the reasons why yoga is so great for the body is because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system through many mechanisms - some of which we’ve already discussed. It incorporates nice, even tempered breathing AND many of the movements focus not only on extending the body, but also stretching & releasing the psoas.
*Update as of 3/29/20 - We are currently closed. We plan to re-open by mid-April.*
With the current news of possible spread of COVID-19, we know that you have a lot of questions on your mind. As a chiropractic patient, you know that stress negatively impacts the nervous system. So my intention with this letter is to help alleviate some concerns you may have.
I've personally struggled with the decision to close our office or not. I have seen the positive effects that adjustments can have on the immune system, which makes me so desperately want to keep our doors open to provide even the smallest amount of help for our patients, BUT we also want to respect the state and the country's encouragement of citizens to stay home when possible.
Because of this, I have made the decision this morning that we will be CLOSED starting Wednesday, March 18 - Wednesday April 1. Our plan (at the moment) is to re-open on April 2.
If you currently have an appointment scheduled within this time frame, you will receive a phone call from Beth to let you know you will be removed from the schedule. If this is the case, she will be happy to reschedule you to another time in April, or call you when we re-open in April.
For the most recent updates from our office:
- Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stamfordbalance
- Follow us in Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stamfordbalance/
- Read our blog: https://www.stamfordbalance.com/blog
- Check our online schedule (We plan to re-open online scheduling when we are accepting patients again): Online Schedule
Before I go, I want to mention just a couple more things. I know that you know that panicking during this time will not lead to a positive outcome, but it bears repeating: keep calm! ;) Prayer or meditation each day is one of the most impactful things you can do for your health, especially right now. It’s not too late to add some healthy habits to your daily health routine - some (easy-ish) things you can do to help your body and your immune system are:
- Get rid of the sugar
- Add more physical activity to your day
- Go to sleep early/aim to get 7 hours of sleep per night
- If it's warm enough, get out in the sunshine
- Organize and get some spring cleaning done
We are hopeful that this situation will come to an end in a short period of time. In the meanwhile, please know that Beth and I remain committed to our Stamford Balance family.
- Dr. Cristina
Are you a science nerd?! Check out the research! https://www.activator.com/category/leg-length-inequality/
Your hypothalamus!! This is a tiny area of your brain that is the connection between the endocrine (or hormone) system and the nervous system. It’s responsible for a VERY important part of our general health - homesostasis! Homeostasis is your body’s ability to “keep the peace” or to stay balanced in response to changes in our outside environment. It does this by sending signals to other parts of our bodies, telling these areas to secrete specific hormones to maintain that nice, healthy balance.
Why is this important at a chiropractic office?
Chiropractic care has a direct affect on this mechanism in the body. When you are getting adjusted, it helps to re-calibrate the stress response in the body - we essentially lessen the output of stress hormones in the body so your body is better equipped to function better. This enables the hypothalamus to do it's job of "keeping the peace" in your body and sets the stage for good health.
What are some things you can do to help counteract the effects of stress in your child's body?
Remember, we are exposed to physical, emotional and chemical stressors everyday - the sign of good health is our body’s ability to “fight off” the effects of these stressors! Here are 3 of the most important things you can do to improve resilience in your child:
1. Sumioka H, Nakae A, Kanai R, Ishiguro H. Huggable communication medium decreases cortisol levels. Sci Rep. 2013;3:3034. Published 2013 Oct 23. doi:10.1038/srep03034
3. Haavik H, Murphy B. The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2012;22(5):768–76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jelekin.2012.02.012
Your sacroiliac joints (what we call your SI joints for short) are the main joints in your pelvis - they are the connection between your sacrum and ilium bones. These two joints are very important in many movements you do throughout the day - walking, running, standing. They are very big joints that absorb a lot of the force in your body when walking and/or running. Research tells us that SI joint dysfunction is to blame for about 15-30% of lower back pain.
Why does this happen?
As we’ve discussed before, your body is always responding to different stresses: physical, emotional and chemical. The way your body reacts to these outside stresses is to get restrictions in your joints, which causes an inflammatory response in the joint and tissues surrounding that joint (what we call subluxations). That inflammatory response and lack of proper motion at that joint sends bad feedback to the brain, and our brain perceives some of this bad feedback as pain. When there continues to be a problem and stress response at that joint, the brain secretes stress hormones in our body, and our body cannot heal or function as it should.
COOL SCIENCE NERD BONUS:
Your sacroiliac joints are very closely connected to how your core muscles activate. Your core muscles are vital for stabilizing your body, and your brain needs to know to activate these muscles in preparation for the most of the motions we do throughout the day on a daily basis. (Your brain knowing to prepare the muscles for movement is called the feed-forward mechanism.) A group of asymptomatic young men (meaning they did not have any pain) were tested to determine how their core muscles were activating with movement. (Basically if these muscles were “turning on” how they are supposed to during movements like lifting up their arm or leg.) About 20% of this group were shown to have core muscles that did not activate properly, which makes that person more prone to injury in the future. When this group with poor muscle activation was evaluated by a chiropractor, they were found to have misalignments at the SI joints or some type of SI joint dysfunction. Their SI joints were adjusted and the feed-forward mechanism was re-tested. After just that one adjustment, there was a 40% improvement in their ability to pre-activate their core musculature! (1)
What does study this tell us? It tells us that just because you don’t have symptoms or serious pain doesn’t mean there’s not a problem. We see this a lot in our office - a patient has had a desk job for years with general on and off low back stiffness, but never through much of it. One day, he or she bends over to pick up a piece of paper from the floor and gets a sharp, sometimes debilitating pain/injury. Most likely, this is not caused by bending over to pick up that piece of paper, this is usually caused by the build-up of different stresses in our lives that are affecting the communication between your brain and body on a nerological level for years.
1. Marshall P, Murphy B. The Effect of Sacroiliac Joint Manipulation on Feed-Forward Activation Times of the Deep Abdominal Musculature. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2006; 29(3): 196-202.
These are some of the most popular questions we get before a patient comes to see us for the fist time!
1. How long is each visit?
During your first visit at our office, you will spend about 30-45 minutes with me. We’ll go over your current health issue and past health history, do a thorough evaluation and exam to learn more about your condition and your general biomechanics. You may get your first adjustment that day. (Or some patients are referred out for x-rays before a full adjustment can be performed. This is based on your health/injury history and/or your exam findings). Your second visit will last about 20-30 minutes. This is when I will go over your exam findings with you, and when we’ll determine the appropriate care plan schedule that fits your needs. Your regular adjustment visits will last about 15-20 minutes.
3. What techniques are used?
I use a combination of techniques that’s specifically tailored to each individual patient. (I recently had a student shadowing me one day, who at the end of the morning turned to me and said, “wow - you did something different with every patient today!”) I use the Activator Method to analyze and adjust the spine to start, and add in some different techniques (gentle manual adjusting, drop-table, soft tissue techniques, etc) if needed. This creates a unique approach and experience for each individual patient who steps in our door.
4. Do I have to be in pain to start care?
Of course not! It’s always a good idea to get your spine checked by a chiropractor BEFORE there’s a pain issue or injury. We have many patients who have heard about the benefits of chiropractic as part of their overall health. Usually, these patients do not have to be seen as frequently as patients who are injured or having a current pain issue.
5. Do you take insurance?
We are in-network with some insurances (UnitedHealthcare, Oxford, Connecticare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield) and out of network with others. During your first visit, our Beth (our office manager) will check your benefits and let you know what your responsibility per visit will be. We electronically file insurance claims on your behalf. If you don’t have insurance or opt no to use it, our out of pocket fees are reasonable, and similar to many insured patients’ co-pays or co-insurances.
6. Can chiropractic help with _________?
Maybe! Chiropractic in its truest form is not a “treatment” for anything specific, it helps improve the function of your own body so it can be better equipped heal itself!
Do you have any other questions? Ask us in the comments section below, or give our office a call at 203-355-2830.
Dr. Cristina shares some insight about the benefits of Chiropractic as a vital part of your healthy lifestyle!